I had ditched the local bania and unreservedly surrendered to the glitzy new retail outlet near my home. The orderly display and music, apparently huge discounts were infinitely a better atmosphere to shop in than the crowded stuffy shop next door. I was an ‘exclusive’ member of as many of retail clubs as the city had to offer. This made me privy to sale previews, encashable points on future purchases etc. None of the old style stores held my attraction or loyalty any more.
As I wandered through the store on my last visit commenting on a lack of sufficient variety in breakfast cereals, I accidentally dislodged two bottles of rose syrup jutting out of the shelf. The sound of breaking glass was drowned by my pounding heartbeats! I watched in horror as the red syrupy amoeba spread fast on the pristine white floor glaring accusingly at me. Some of my fellow shoppers stared at me with pity and others with condescension. I wished a hole would open up in the ground and swallow me up!
The store staff came around to clean the mess as I jabbered incoherently about paying for the damages. Of course I had had my share of broken bottles, glasses and cups but these were in the safety of my kingdom, namely my home. This was an entirely different cup of tea! I mentally began counting notes in my purse and began to rework my shopping list for the day in order to cater for this unexpected ‘purchase’. The plastic route was unavailable since I was awaiting a renewal of my credit card.
The area having been cleaned up I hurried through the rest of my purchases and landed up at the billing counter ready to pay for my deeds! I explained my predicament to the salesperson and hoped the matter would end there. It was not to be. I saw the manager approaching with a determined look and I feared the worst. Again I slipped into explanations of the accidental breakage and my willingness to pay for the same. The manager had a tough time to get a word into our largely one-sided conversation. As I finally stopped for breath, he grabbed the chance to say his bit!
It took a minute for my splintered brain to grasp what he had said. Seeing me gulping like a fish he gently repeated there was no need to pay- they would account for the bottle as a damaged piece. As the bit of information sank in I was overcome with contrition. I had been careless and this seemed to be the perfect way of ensuring I did not perform an encore! But there was more to come. The manager was profusely apologetic for providing only eight varieties of breakfast cereals and promised me the full range in a couple of day’s time. You see he had overheard my earlier comments.
I came away from the store thoroughly bewildered. The manager’s one sentence had ensured a permanent loyal consumer at his store. I now walk around the store with my hands crossed behind my back or safely folded in front. I have no wish to test if the store’s policies are unchanged!
Some of the big outlets offer exchange programs for old clothes, newspapers or even crockery! I hear foreign retail giants too are entering our markets. I was encouraged by my NRI relatives comments that the stores compared favourably with the ones abroad.
If the retail format gives me a comfortable shopping experience, with discounts, home delivery, gifts etc, what more do I need? Retail zindabad!
First published here on MSN Contribute.